Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Is there such a thing as a photonic boom?

  1. Sep 24, 2012 #1
    Hello I'm dbmorpher,
    We all know that if you travel at the speed of sound you achieve a sonic boom from the sound bouncing off the object.
    Since light behaves similarly to sound would there be such a thing as a "Photonic Boom"?
    If so is the reason physical beings cannot travel the speed of light because a photonic boom would destroy us?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 24, 2012 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    You can think of Cerenkov radiation as a photonic boom:


    However, in a vaccuum this is not possible, and has nothing to do with why nothing goes faster than c. A better way to look at this is that the structure of spacetime divides events into causally connected and causally disconnected. The constant c determines the surface of possible causal connection. It just happens that light, being massless (so far as we know) travels at the maximum speed of causal influence.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook